Reading for Wednesday, May 23: Galatians 6
Paul closes his letter as is his tendency: with practical application of the Spirit-led life. Restoration and restitution are the risky practices of Christ’s followers (v1). This work is to be engaged gently, in love, with an understanding that we mutually bear our burdens (v2). The Christian life is not a solo performance; instead, it is more like a symphony – each part dependent upon other players. Humility is also a hallmark of the body: “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself,” (v3). V5 (“For each will have to bear his own load,”) might seem at first to contradict v2 (“Bear one another’s burdens,”) but we shouldn’t seek to resolve the tension here. The Christian community holds up both individual and collective responsibility.
This prompts Paul to speak about the issue of sowing and reaping, with his encouragement toward the Spirit-harvest of eternal life. But Paul speaks in favor of meaningful Kingdom work in the meantime. Rather than simply “biding out time, waiting for heaven”, Christians should not grow weary of doing good, instead seeking opportunities to demonstrate goodness to all — particularly within the household of faith.
Paul closes with a final reminder of the most important thing: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (v14-15). For Paul, the cruciform life is the only one worth living. For this reason, he is able to proclaim “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Paul not only proclaims the message; he embodies it. It is imprinted on his body and in his life.
May the same be said of us.